A very unusual book, and one I had a hard time putting down! The story takes place post World War I. Twin siblings Emily and Michael have lost their father in France during the war, and live a rather isolated life with their mother Naomi and a well loved family servant Mary, on the Delaware river in 1925 on a very old family estate with a rich history. Emily finds she can make an unusual sound in her ankle, a sort of popping that is disembodied. When she show this to michael, he talks her into a scheme as summer entertainment. She is hesitant but Michael pushes her to do it. At first it is fairly innocent fun with neighborhood children. Emily claims to be able to speak to the dead through a long dead aunt and the answers are "yes" and "no" by one pop or two. This situation escalates as children attending confide in their parents and Michael pushes the fraud forward with disasterous results.
The writing was lovely and lyrical, the story well done, even though the characters themselves were not especially likable. Very interesting to have the two timelines overlapping in the history of the house, and in the story. Emily eventually tries to comfort a grieving parent by reassurances that his desceased son is happy in the afterlife and this makes her feel that the deception has caused some good. When she evenually is overcome by guilt and confesses her lie, life is changed forever for many people. We all lie every day. Is it ever acceptable to deceive another, even if we think it is for their own good? How many ways do we deceive ourselves? There were many lingering questions to digest long after I finished this book.... I thought it was origional, thought provoking and especially liked the descriptions of what happened to the characters later in life. How our actions, well intentioned or not, affect ourselves and those around us is serious food for thought to ponder long after the book is back on the shelf. And possibly to come back to... ( )